John Feinstein wrote a famous golf book titled “A Good Walk Spoiled” that shared stories of struggle and frustration on the PGA tour, but this could also be the title of a biography on a golfer who doesn’t take care of their feet. There is nothing better than a stroll down the fairway on a warm afternoon, but pain can spoil the experience. Did you know that eight in 10 people suffer from foot or back pain?
Regardless, if you’ve been fighting foot pain for years, or have just started to notice it while you are on the course, we can help. Below we discuss ways to improve your foot health before, during, and after your round. Get out of the cart and start to walk the course again. Golf should help you clear your head and relax, not cause your body to hurt. Improve your foot health, play better golf, and get more enjoyment out of your day.
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Before You Head to the First Tee
As golfers, there are things we do before hitting our drive off the first hole. We visit the driving range and hit some putts on the practice green. We check the weather to make sure we have the appropriate clothing and gear. We try to get our body ready for somewhere between 65 and 125 strokes at the golf ball. What should we do for foot care?
Specifically, for your feet, you should do two things before you play: Make sure you have the right equipment and stretch. First, the equipment. You need to have high quality golf shoes or at least walking shoes designed to support your feet. It is important that they fit your feet properly. Golf shoe sizes are not always consistent across brands and types, so you need to test your shoes before heading to the links. We recommend you wear them around the house to break them in and confirm they are comfortable on your feet.
Did you know that some golf shoes are designed for walkers versus players that ride in a cart? If you enjoy walking the course, get a pair of shoes that support this activity. If you walk 18 holes, you are covering 5-7 miles, so having the correct shoes is critical.
To ensure foot wellness it is important you consider two more pieces of “equipment”: Socks and inserts. First, the right socks can make a big difference in your day. Make sure they properly fit your feet. Most golfers wear short socks but being too short can cause them to slide down your heel and lead to blisters. Don’t be cheap on your golf socks. You want fabric that will help remove moisture from your feet. Wet feet are more likely to blister, crack or peel.
More on this in our “After The Final Putt Drops” section, but the right shoe insert can be a life saver to the avid golfer. The correct arch support will help your feet, but can also prevent knee, hip, and/or back pain.
Enough talk about your feet “equipment” – we know you are ready to play. Do you perform any stretches before you swing the club? Most golfers do various exercises to get loose, but they typically focus on their back, legs, and hips. It is just as important to get your feet ready for the course. We recommend two simple stretches to ensure foot wellness during your round. First, one at a time, roll a golf ball under your feet. Use light pressure to massage the arch and sole of your feet. Second, roll your ankles in small circles. Do 2 sets of 10 in both directions with both ankles.
Nice and simple, right? You have the correct equipment for your feet, and you have warmed them up with a couple of quick exercises. Now it is time to attack the course. Hit fairways, hit greens, and make putts.
During Your Round
The amateur golfer’s mind can be a cluttered place on the course. Trying to remember swing tips from their last lesson, trying to factor in the wind and pick the right club, and trying to win a few bucks off their buddies. Do we really need to add foot care to the list of things we need to worry about when trying to execute a golf shot?
The short answer is, No. We understand you have enough on your mind during your round. That said, what is wrong with spending a couple minutes at the turn to assess your body and foot wellness? What do you typically do after the front nine? We suspect you add up scores, grab a snack from the halfway house, and hit the restroom. Before you tee on number 10, take a couple of minutes to assess how you feel.
How is your foot “equipment” performing for you? Are your socks staying up and protecting your heel? Are they keeping your feet dry and comfortable? Are your shoes and/or insert supporting your arch? Do you feel any pain? Are your feet already starting to feel tired?
This assessment process won’t take very long, but will give you valuable information for the next time you play. These questions can tell you if you need to do more before your next round to ensure foot wellness.
Assessment done. Go own your back nine. Push yourself on your final nine and enjoy your day.
After the Final Putt Drops
What is your typical post-round process? Most golfers head into the 19th hole for a drink or a quick bite to eat. Hang out with your golf buddies and discuss todays round. If you have spent time in the restaurant of a golf course, you might wonder if golfers enjoy talking about their round more than actually playing it. Probably not a good idea to bring up your foot wellness during this part of your day. Your golf buddies don’t need to hear about your great new inserts that gave you extra energy on the final holes. Or maybe they do?
In all seriousness, your post round foot care activities can wait until you get home. Most golfers spend time reflecting on their most recent round. What did they do well and what part of their game still needs work? Maybe you hit the driver great, but had way too many three putts. Why is this valuable? It helps you determine where you should spend your practice time.
The exact same approach can help you improve your foot health. Many amateur golfers struggle to finish rounds and they get frustrated because they “choke” on the last four holes. Is it possible this isn’t a mental issue, but instead is physical? If your body and feet wear down near the end of your round, it is going to be more challenging to finish strong. Watch PGA tour pro Justin Thomas hit a golf shot, and you will quickly see how important the feet are to a good golf swing.
In order to solve a problem, you must first identify it. Following your round, are your feet sore? Do you have blisters, callouses, or cracks? If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” we can help you find a solution. You need to confirm your golf shoes are working with you and not against you. Do they properly fit your feet?
If you feel good about your golf shoes and socks, but still come off the course with pain, you might need additional arch support. The right shoe insert can help you both on and off the course. The only downside is that custom inserts can cost $500+ and that might be more than you’re willing to, or you can afford to invest. If this sounds like you, FitMyFoot can help! We offer inexpensive, custom insoles that will put the spring back in your step. Regardless if we are the right solution for you, we want you to achieve foot wellness.
Between Rounds – Preventative Foot Care
Your feet are important to your overall health every day, not just on the days you play golf. There are several things you can do between rounds to improve your foot wellness.
Basic foot care is critical. At a minimum you should consistently do the following. Wash and dry your feet daily – make sure you spend time between your toes. Avoid getting your feet too hot or too cold. If you suffer from dry skin, moisture your feet following showers and baths. Keep toenails trimmed. Avoid standing still for more than 15 minutes. Monitor your feet for any discolored nails or blisters. Overall basic health will also help your feet. A well-balanced diet and daily exercise.
Are you looking for preventative body and foot care more focused on golf? You should consider developing a fitness plan designed for golfers. The most popular is the Titleist Performance Institute or TPI. They have designed assessments to identify the weak parts of your body and exercises to help strengthen them. You can find a TPI certified instructor in your area to help. They will review your physical health and determine what is causing your pain and/or what is holding back your golf game. Based on your individual challenges, they will give you a program of stretches and exercises to help you improve your body and your swing. Part of their assessment does look at the strength and mobility of your feet. Your feet are the base of your golf swing – without a solid base, you lose power and consistency.
Where does power come from in the golf swing? The correct answer is the ground. The golf swing is designed to use the ground to apply force and allow you to solidly strike the golf ball. Now, what part of your body directly interacts with the ground? Your feet are a critical piece of your golf game, but they are often overlooked.
The goal should be walking 18 holes without pain and feeling strong when you stroll into the 19th hole to calculate the side bets. Can you do that today? If the answer is “No”, what changes do you need to make? Depending on your situation, you may need new golf shoes, new socks, new shoe inserts, better fitness, or some combination of this list.
The first step is understanding the importance of your feet in your golf game. Now, let’s do something about it. Eliminate the pain and tiredness. Get more enjoyment from your time on the course. Shoot lower scores. The best thing about the game of golf is that you can play it for your entire your life, but only if you take care of your body (and your feet). Don’t let your good walk be spoiled.